Depending on your body confidence levels, Naked Gardening Day may or may not be marked in your diary.
If it’s not a fixture on your calendar, here’s the lowdown: Naked Gardening Day takes place this Saturday, May 2 (and the first Saturday of May, every year), and it’s pretty much what it says - a day when everyone is invited to embrace the joys of being in nature, au naturel.
But is it really such a good idea?
While we accept gardening stark naked could be sort of liberating, we’re also aware of all sorts of possible secateur-related injury.
So what side of the picket fence do the experts fall on?
“Many people do [naked gardening] on a daily basis (weather permitting of course) and for those people having a ‘day’ to celebrate it would make them feel included and nude gardening a socially sanctioned behaviour,” says Dr Elle Boag, senior lecturer in Social Psychology at Birmingham City University.
It sets you free
“This is a good thing psychologically as it bolsters positive self-concepts,” Boag continues.
“For those who do not usually participate in nude gardening, having a dedicated day of the year whereby nude gardening is celebrated might encourage people who enjoy novel experiences to engage in this type of behaviour without the constraints of embarrassment (if, for instance, a dedicated ‘day’ were not put aside for it).
“In addition, it might simply allow people to symbolically snub societal norms and values and use the day as a means of excusing what can be considered to normatively be antisocial behaviour.”
It gives you confidence
For both types of people who would not normally participate in nude gardening, engaging in such behaviour can have positive psychological outcomes; the first type the person can experience increased psychological arousal that is used to facilitate further ‘risky’ behaviours as they are viewed as positive by the individual.
The second type of person might be likely to view the anti-sociality of their behaviour as a means of increasing their positive self-views (such as self-esteem and self-efficacy).
“So, overall, gardening naked can lead to a real sense of self-directed positivity which can only be argued to be a good thing.”
It ups your vitamin D
We’re always being told we need more vitamin D, and low levels have been linked with increased risk of rickets, cancer, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease and even dementia.
So what’s a good way to up your levels? Get outside - vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight.
And what’s a good way of topping up your levels even more? Get outside naked, surely, so you’re exposing as much skin as possible.
BUT it also exposes you to sunburn…
While some sun on your skin boosts vitamin D, too much sun on your skin will just lead to irreversible sun damage – be it immediate painful sunburn, or long-term cancerous melanoma.
Of course, you can (and should) put sun cream on, but reaching all your nooks and crannies can be hard enough when you’re clothed, so doing so with no clothes at all must be impossible.
A few years ago, a professor of dermatology at an Ohio university said that “while most of the skin reactions resulting from direct contact with a hazardous plant are more of a nuisance than anything else, there are some instances where the reaction can affect the entire body and pose a potentially more serious risk.”
Yes, thanks to all the potentially poisonous plants and weeds lurking about, gardening can be a dangerous pastime – some people break out in hives just from brushing a lowly stinging nettle. Now imagine where that stinging nettle could potentially reach while you’re busy enjoying Naked Gardening Day…
A pair of pruners. Nakedness. One small mis-cut. You do the maths…
And indecent exposure
Let’s face it, while the dream of naked gardening might involve gambolling about, flowers in hair, in some wild and idyllic countryside mansion’s lawn, most of us live in towns and cities with overlooked or even shared gardens. Again, you do the maths.